Adventure Trips give students nature experience at a low cost

Robert Checkal

Biking, climbing and zip-lining available through rec center


Credit: DKS Editors

There’s something missing. It takes a fraction of a second to remember what it is, but its presence is undeniably existent. Subtract the sounds of traffic, the daily grind of work, homework and social stress. Subtract the never-ending drone of an all-digital world. What’s left? Nature.

Within that forgotten plane lies brand new experiences for students and the community at-large. Dave Herpy, director for the Student Recreation and Wellness Center’s Adventure Center, is engaged in what he calls “a hidden gem” of the SRWC: the Adventure Center.

The Adventure Center has been a part of the SRWC since it opened its doors 10 years ago, but Herpy said participation and enrollment numbers for adventure trips are usually low. Unbeknownst to most students, a wide array of possibilities to explore nature exists at low costs and minimal planning on the participants’ end.

“Trips are all-inclusive and worry-free,” Herpy said. “We take care of the logistics. We organize round-trip transportation, we gather the necessary equipment, there’s usually food – whether in the form of a full lunch or just some snacks – and we provide instructions for the activity.”

Upcoming activities include biking, climbing, zip-lining, caving and rappelling.

Herpy’s schedule doesn’t allow him to be present for every trip, so each semester he extensively trains student leaders to organize, lead and experience trips.

Karl Schmidt, a student leader and senior recreation park and tourism major, said the most memorable experience he had was a rock-climbing trip at Nelson’s Ledges.

“There’s just such a difference between sitting at the gym and climbing the rock wall and going out and being on real rock,” Schmidt said. “That was awesome.”

He said his experiences aren’t just a series of adventures, but also valuable learning experiences.

Mountain Biking Series

(Fridays, Sept. 18 – Oct. 9)

&bull Registration Deadline: Sept. 16

&bull Fee: Stud. $30, Mem. $30, Non. $40

&bull Time: 2 – 5:30 p.m.

&bull Locations: Quail Hollow State Park, West Branch State Park

Climbing Trip (Sept. 20)

&bull Registration Deadline: Sept. 16

&bull Fee: Stud. $30, Mem. $30, Non. $40

&bull Time: 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

&bull Location: Hinckley

Clean-up the Cuyahoga Kayaking Trip (Sept. 26)

Registration Deadline: Sept. 23

&bull Fee: Free

&bull Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

&bull Location: Cuyahoga River, Kent, OH

Ziplining Trip (Oct. 3)

&bull Registration Deadline: Sept. 18

&bull Fee: Stud. $150, Mem. $150, Non. $200

&bull Time: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

&bull Location: Hocking Hills State Park

Whitewater Kayaking Trip

(Oct. 16 – 18)

&bull Registration Deadline: Oct. 14

&bull Fee: Stud. $150, Mem. $150, Non. $200

&bull Departure Time: 6 p.m.

&bull Location: Youghiogheny River, Confluence, PA

&bull Prerequisites: Essentials of River Kayaking (Mandatory), One Kayak Pool Session (Mandatory)

Caving/Rappelling Trip (Nov. 7)

&bull Registration Deadline: Oct. 20

&bull Fee: Stud. $65, Mem. $65, Non. $75

&bull Time: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

&bull Location: Laurel Caverns

For more information, or to register, go to

“This isn’t just a one-shot deal,” Schmidt said. “It’s something you do over and over, you keep expanding your skill set and apply what you’ve learned.”

Schmidt also proclaimed astonishment at how few people know about what’s offered at the Adventure Center.

“You’d be surprised how many people would go, but just because it’s not free they’ll write it off,” he said.

Herpy explained that even though there is a cost to participate, that cost is much lower in comparison to what it would be if students organized a trip on their own. While most students have an option to participate, some students are required to go on a trip for their outdoor recreation class.

The outdoor recreation course is led by Andy Lepp, assistant professor in recreation, parks and tourism management, and the class is required for all students in the recreation park and tourism major.

“You can’t get a good education without leaving the classroom,” Lepp said. “The Adventure Center does so many great trips and a really great job facilitating them. It’s nice for our students to see their peers leading these trips.”

Lepp said in addition to taking the trip, students must critically reflect on their experience in a detailed analysis paper. He said students must be able to distinguish the success and benefits of their actions leading up to a good trip or in contrast, the negative experiences that led to a bad trip.

“The process of writing a paper alone allows students to stop and think about all of the ingredients that went into their learning experience,” Lepp said. “It just emphasizes a clearer awareness of how this all works.”

Along with gaining a strong sense of leadership skills, students can also learn about the resources available to them close to the Kent campus.

“We’ve got so many natural resources right here,” Herpy said. “We’ve got so many state parks within a relatively short distance from us, and the only national park in Ohio is just over an hour away.”

He said the ease of traveling leads to less of a time commitment, which he feels is more appealing to students who have projects and other school- and work-related obligations.

The setting is always present, the experience: muted. The daily grind allows a vacant stare into the wilderness, but the beckoning call is easily drowned out in the clutter. Herpy said despite the ease of use, the cost-effectiveness and the time convenience, some scheduled trips will not run because of low participation.

Contact student recreation and wellness center reporter Robert Checkal at [email protected].